The online registration process was handled by Runners World and I paid the £12 affiliated runner fee (unaffiliated runners would have paid £14). On-the-day entries were an extra £2 making it £14 and £16 respectively.
|#teamslgr pre-run photo [photo: tony giles]|
The race headquarters was at Westlands School, and upon arrival I was directed into the grounds where I found plenty of space to park. The race village was set up on the school playing fields - here there were various gazebos set up selling cakes, breakfast rolls etc..
Plus a local radio station (SFM) were broadcasting live from the race and provided plenty of chat and music while I chilled out on the grass.
|number collection / chip collection marquees [photo: 7t]|
Another couple of gazebos were in place to deal with the race number and timing chip collection. The number collection was in one gazebo and the chip collection next door in another.
I thought it a little strange because there was a risk that a runner could turn up, collect their number but not their timing chip. Fortunately I was prompted to go and collect mine.
|course map [photo: 7t]|
The rest of my running club started to arrive around this point and we found a nice spot to hang out and chat in the sun before starting our respective warm-ups.
Once warmed through, it was time to check out the toilet facilities which were inside the school - there was only a short queue and before I knew it I was back outside and stripping down to my club vest. I stored my excess bits and pieces in my car, but there was a bag drop area for anyone that required it.
|during the early stages of the race [photo: brian page]|
About ten minutes before the race start time, which had been set at 11am, I started to head towards the start area. It was pretty full but I managed to filter through to a spot quite near the front.
It was here that one of my team mates informed me that he didn't have a timing chip because he wasn't prompted to pick his up after collecting his race bib. So if there's any feedback for the organisers it would be to merge these two collection points to make the process easier for the runners in future (or maybe change to the timing chips that are embedded in the bib).
|st peter and paul church, borden [photo: 7t]|
Then at 11am sharp the horn was sounded and the race was underway. The race took place almost entirely on tarmac country lanes to the south-west of the centre of Sittingbourne.
The course, which was run anti-clockwise, undulated throughout but the general theme was that the first half featured more inclines and the second half brought you back down. With this knowledge to hand I decided to push fairly hard through the first half and hope that gravity would assist with getting me back to the finish during the second.
|a typical stretch of the course [photo: 7t]|
The first section was through residential streets and these quickly gave way to the country lanes where all I could see to each side were open crop fields.
Just after a mile into the race, the course passed through Borden where the lovely, grade 1 listed 'Saint Peter and Paul Parish Church' could be seen on the right - records say that it is at least 800 years old.
|part of the 300 metre off-road section [photo: 7t]|
It is worth noting that the roads remained open to traffic and there were a few cars around, with some drivers not particularly sympathetic to the runners.
The course continued to undulate (mostly gentle climbing) as it lead further south along the country lanes until it passed over the M2 motorway and then a marshal directed the runners through a tiny hole in a hedge for a 300 metre stretch on a slightly bumpy dirt path that runs along the edge of a crop field. The end of this section is roughly about half-way into the race.
|around eight kilometres into the race [photo: brian page]|
The course then turned to the north to head back across the M2 and back towards Sittingbourne - the water station was around this point. I had spent the entire run so far with an ever-changing selection of Sittingbourne Strider runners and this theme continued right until the end.
This is the still-undulating-but-generally-downhill half of the race. The funny thing is, that even though my GPS data confirms that this half was indeed generally downhill, it didn't feel like it during the race. All I can remember were more uphill sections and the occasional downhill.
|finish line in sight [photo: tony giles]|
Towards the end of the race the country lanes gave way to the residential streets which lead the runners back into the Westlands School, past the start line and up onto the grass playing fields for a final dash to the finish line, still with my Sittingbourne Striders race companions.
Once I had crossed the line, the timing chip was removed from my shoe and I was given a medal and a goody bag. As it was a fairly warm day my first thought was to rummage through it to look for the water; During the process I also found a banana, a peanut bar thingy and loads of paper things including a list of runners in this year's race - a nice touch, I thought.
|some of teamslgr awaiting (and cheering) the rest of the team [photo: tony giles]|
After a brief spot of recovering on the grass, I went and found a nice spot to cheer in the rest of the team, and as each runner finished they came over and joined in with the cheering. We'd all had a great time at the event and some of my team mates even headed home with new personal bests, as confirmed by the official results that were published on-line later the same afternoon.
|mission accomplished [photo: brian page]|
Looking through my GPS split times it looks like I ran the first 5k in just a shade over 21 minutes and the second half in about 19.50. For the record my official chip time was 40.56 giving me and age grading of 68.38% which translates into 69 points in the club GP competition. Overall it was another great morning out with #teamslgr and I can't wait until the next one. Lastly, I would just like to add a huge thanks to Tony Giles and Brian Page for the photos.